Bedbugs found at local hotel

July 16, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HALFWAY -- A Washington County Health Department sanitarian went to the Country Inn & Suites at 17612 Valley Mall Road Thursday and found the hotel had a problem with bedbugs in a couple of rooms, according to a health department spokesman.

The sanitarian talked with the hotel's management about how to deal with the bedbugs, which are small brown insects that feed on animal and human blood, said Rod MacRae, the health department's public information officer.

"This is not uncommon," said MacRae, who added bedbugs can be a problem at other facilities where there are large numbers of people, such as nursing homes and elderly residential facilities.

Bedbugs also can be a problem in motels the way roaches can be in restaurants, MacRae said.

Bo Bounds, a spokesman for the hotel, said Thursday afternoon the hotel had used a professional exterminator to treat three rooms. Rooms on either side of the three rooms also were treated to make sure the problem had not spread, Bounds said.


Under the treatment process, the rooms have to remain closed for 10 days, Bounds said.

The health department sanitarian was expected to return to the hotel later in the day to give hotel officials a recommendation for dealing with the problem, which would involve professional extermination, MacRae said.

But Bounds said late Thursday afternoon nobody from the health department had returned.

Bounds emphasized bedbugs are a problem across the country and are common in other facilities such as day-care centers and dormitories. Bedbugs usually are carried into a building unknowingly, perhaps on luggage and clothing, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

"It's an old problem that came back. You can have the cleanest hotel in the state" and end up with an infestation if someone brings them in on luggage, Bounds said.

Five employees of the hotel told The Herald-Mail on Wednesday they were fired for refusing to go into a room where there were bedbugs. The employees said they were fired for refusing to prepare a room for treatment and because they would not apply the treatment.

Bounds said the termination of the workers did not have anything to do with the bedbugs. Bounds said the workers were fired for refusing to carry out their duties.

One of the employees had returned to work, Bounds said.

MacRae said the health department can cite businesses for bedbug infestations, but normally, the agency tries to work with businesses that have the problem. If a business refuses to work with the health department, citations can be issued, MacRae said.

MacRae said management at Country Inn & Suites has been working to resolve the problem.

MacRae said the biggest problem with bedbugs is they are an annoyance. Bedbugs can bite, but are not known to spread disease, according to MacRae and the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Bedbug facts

o Bedbugs are small, brown insects that feed on human and animal blood. Adult bedbugs are one-quarter-inch long with reddish-brown, oval, flat bodies. They are active at night and the day and hide in tiny crevices in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and furniture. They sometimes are mistaken for ticks.

o Although a nuisance, bedbugs are not known to spread disease. Many people develop an itchy, skin welt a day after a bite. The medical concern usually is limited to itching and inflammation of the welts. Infestations might cause anxiety and loss of sleep. If badly affected, seek medical care promptly.

o Bedbugs usually are carried into a home unknowingly. People carry them on luggage and clothing. Once inside the home, they spread from room to room. They can live for months without food or water.

o The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends treatment for the bugs be provided by a licensed pest control business.

Source: Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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